History of Malta
Malta has been populated for over 8,000 years. Large Neolithic temples in the south of the island and in Gozo are still standing as witness today. These are Tarxien Temples, Hagar Qin and Mnahjdra in south and Ggantija in Gozo. Scientists have dated these monuments with carbon. The results have shown that they existed with 1,000 years before the pyramids from Giza, in Egypt, thus making them the oldest freestanding monuments in the world. Starting with the year 2,000 BC, Malta was gradually conquered by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs.
The Arabs brought irrigation systems, fruits and cotton to the island. They also influenced the language spoken on the island. The Siculo-Arabic language by Sicilian origins is standing at the root of the modern Maltese. Arabs tolerated the Christian religion, but charged an extra tax to those that were practicing this rite. When the Normans conquered Malta in 1091, they re-established the Roman-Catholicism as the state religion. At the same time, Malta became part of the Kingdom of Sicily.
Between 1530 and 1789, the Knights of Malta, also known as the order if St. John Knights, governed the island. They encouraged the commerce and trade with foreigners, built strong fortifications and constructed hospitals. The robust fortifications held many assaults from the Ottomans. This era in the history of Malta is known as The Great Siege of 1565.
Napoleon followed as the ruler of the island. He abolished slavery and built an education system for the primary, secondary and university levels. The British Empire took Malta from French domination, and ruled it for the next 160 years. As the island has an important geo strategic position, it was bombed several times by the Germans in the Second World War. The alliance with the British protected the island from German domination. The year 1964 is the moment when Malta became an independent republic. The island became a member of the European Union in 2003, thus opening its gate to many tourists around the world.